Mild corporal punishment like child spanking linked to physical abuse - group

The UCT Children's Institute says mild forms of corporal punishment, such as a slap or spanking, can have detrimental effects on children.

The Constitutional Court is expected to rule on whether all forms of physical correction of children by their parents should be unlawful.

Last year, a judgment by the High Court in Johannesburg found that the use of physical chastisement in the home was unconstitutional, even if moderate and reasonable.

Read: Child spanking outlawed as court scraps use of 'reasonable chastisement' defence (2017)

Now an organisation called Freedom of Religion South Africa (For SA) is appealing that judgment at the Constitutional Court.

For SA argues that parents should be given the right to discipline their children without the interference of the state.

The UCT Children’s Institute is one of a number of academic, faith and civil society organisations which are respondents in the case and opposed to the use of any corporal punishment.

Read also: 'You can punish your children, you just don't need to hit them'

They say research shows that mild forms of corporal punishment can affect a child's mental health, lead to anti-social and delinquent behaviour and increases child aggression.

The institute's Stefanie Röhr adds that parents who use mild forms of corporal punishment are much more likely to also severely assault their child.

It shows that mild corporal punishment is linked to physical abuse... It's all on a continuum of violence.

Stefanie Röhr, senior researcher at UCT Children's Institute

Most forms of child abuse, 75% in fact, happens during episodes of physical discipline.

Stefanie Röhr, senior researcher at UCT Children's Institute

Since this organisation called Freedom of Religion South Africa appealed the ruling, it means the judgement is not in effect anymore until that appeal has been decided.

Stefanie Röhr, senior researcher at UCT Children's Institute

They are arguing that it's overstepping the boundaries in people's homes. They also say the court should make a decision...that there should be a law drafted and voted on in Parliament.

Stefanie Röhr, senior researcher at UCT Children's Institute

Research clearly shows that even mild forms of corporal punishment, a slap or spanking, can have detrimental effects on children's mental health.

Stefanie Röhr, senior researcher at UCT Children's Institute

Listen to the arguments made on The Pippa Hudson Show:


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